Simple syrup is a commonly used sweetener that's in the majority of cocktails and mocktails worldwide. It’s super easy to make and does a world of difference to the overall taste of your cocktail.
Once comfortable with a basic sugar simple syrup you can start experimenting with flavoured versions that cater to specific cocktails you're making.
A classic simple syrup is super easy to make. Following a 1:1 ratio you’re going to bring 1 cup of preferably filtered water to boil, then add 1 cup of granulated sugar and let it simmer (it's common to do a half light sugar and half brown sugar combination). You're then going to stir your sugars until dissolved and let cool.
You can also follow this 1:1 ratio with honey to make an amazing honey simple syrup even upping the ratio 1:2 to get a more intense honey flavouring. Pretty simple but makes a world of difference when making your cocktails.
For storing your simple syrup, place it in an airtight container in your refrigerator and it’ll last for up to 4 weeks, or two weeks if you've added flavouring. Speaking of flavouring there are a few methods one can follow to flavour their simple syrup.
With citrus I like to add when simmering the sugars, this allows the citrus to steep and the oil infuses nicely with the syrup. This also works when mixing in spices like cloves, vanilla bean and cinnamon. If you're going to try adding fresh ingredients like some fresh herbs I would recommend allowing the syrup to cool first.
Here are some of my favourite combinations to get your mind wandering and the ideas flowing. I love adding ginger and jalapenos to my syrups I use for Margaritas and Bloody Marys. Around Christmas I make a cinnamon and clove syrup that's amazing for Hottie Totties and Sangria.
During the spring I made an amazing lavender and basil syrup to dash in a white wine spritzer, which was a big hit during the Covid picnic era. Another flavour I tried recently was a brown sugar and lemon syrup that worked amazingly when making the Lemon Drop Martini from ‘3 Ingredient cocktails’.
At the end of the day though, much like spirit infusions, the opportunities are endless and it's all about trial and error until you find combinations for the flavours you like and the drinks you enjoy making.